Lake Susupe is now a wildlife park after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed into law a bill that designates the landmark and its surrounding wetland as a natural habitat to some species of birds.
House Bill 20-13, which was one of three bills Torres enacted before leaving for Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, is now Public Law 20-91.
All three bills—passed by the House and the Senate in the previous Legislature—can still be signed into law by the governor since they’ve already been transmitted to his office.
The lake, named after the village where it is located, has been a sanctuary and stopover for several species of migratory birds over the years, including those from other countries in Asia because of the winter season or due to climate change where they are living.
The Marianas common moorhen, endemic only to the CNMI and is on the endangered bird species list, also calls Susupe Lake its home. Ironwood trees grow around the lake, which also has little ponds that have fancy-tail guppies.
P.L. 20-91 would also allow the creation of environmental-related programs that could help prevent Susupe Lake from being destroyed by erosion and water runoff from nearby hillsides and other polluters that threaten the lake’s endangered wildlife and their natural habitat.
“These can be prevented by creating programs that are adaptable to such environment, which would provide protection to the endangered wildlife species and their habitats, saving Susupe Lake and its surrounding wetland,” states the new law.
The Division of Parks and Recreation, under the Department of Land and Natural Resources, is tasked to manage the park. It is also tasked to prepare the development plan that will show areas where the public would not be allowed to enter and where pathways, public amenities, concessions, small boat dock, floating dock (raft), public restroom, and a parking area will be built.
The division will also be tasked with issuing permits for the concession rights at the park.
The division, in consultation with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, shall provide guidelines for visitors to comply to protect the park and its species. They can also impose fines and other penalties based on regulations on the use of public parks and other recreational facilities.
All money collected from the operations of the concessions and other revenue-producing activities at the park shall be deposited in a division account.
The Department of Public Lands will survey the wildlife park to determine its actual area and boundaries.